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The Shady Scheme of Russian Senator

Dmitry Savelyev, one of Russia’s wealthiest senators, received millions of dollars from a company implicated in a scheme to embezzle money from the Russian budget. This scheme was previously uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky

27 Jun 2024
The Shady Scheme of Russian Senator
Dmitry Savelyev. Photo: Federation Council

One of Russia’s wealthiest senators, Dmitry Savelyev, has in the past received millions of dollars in his offshore company’s Swiss bank account. He was one of those who used the company noted in a dirty scheme to withdraw money from Russia, behind which were the organizers of embezzlement from the Russian budget. Their names became known thanks to the famous Sergei Magnitsky case. This was found out by IStories in a joint investigation with

Millions by shady scheme

In the rating of the richest Russian senators, 55-year-old Savelyev has long held in the top 20. In the mid-1990s he headed Lukoil structures, in 1998–1999 he was the general director of the state-owned company Transneft, which transports oil through trunk pipelines. Then he bought its major contractors.

As Kommersant wrote, Savelyev is close to Sergei Kiriyenko (current first deputy head of the presidential administration and former prime minister), with whom he worked in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. After Transneft, Saveliev served in the State Duma from 1999, and moved to the Federation Council in 2016.

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As IStories and found out, from May 2012 to the end of January 2013, almost $8 million (247 million rubles at the average annual exchange rate) came into the account of Savelyev’s offshore company (he was a deputy at the time) and his wife Olga — Green Island Investors Corp in the Swiss bank EFG. The transaction purposes were specified as “loan agreements” and “supply of equipment.”

The money came from Zibar Management, based in the British Virgin Islands, which Hermitage Capital CEO Bill Browder mentioned among the entities involved in a scheme to embezzle 5.4 billion rubles from the Russian budget. The scheme was uncovered thanks to auditor Sergei Magnitsky, who worked for Hermitage Capital and subsequently died in a Russian pre-trial detention center as a result of being held in inhumane conditions, beaten and denied medical care.

Zibar Management has been linked to Dmitry Klyuev, who is considered by the US to be the alleged organizer of the tax fraud scheme known for the Magnitsky case. Klyuev fell under international sanctions in 2014. The accounts of his Universal Savings Bank received the same 5.4 billion rubles stolen in 2007 from the Russian budget through illegal income tax refunds. Klyuyev was able to move some of this money out of Russia using the same Zibar Management.

Switzerland dropped the investigation

Following an application by Hermitage Capital, the Swiss prosecutor’s office initially opened a criminal investigation and began looking into transactions, in particular between the Savelievs’ offshore company and Zibar Management. But the proceedings were dropped in 2021. The prosecutor's office decided that since the Savelievs’ company’s account in the Swiss bank was opened only in 2011, three and a half years after the embezzlement of funds from the Russian budget, there could be no claims against the Savelievs.

Based on the responses received by, the position of the Swiss law enforcement agencies did not change even after Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine and after Savelyev was included in the sanctions lists of many countries. At the same time, some Swiss banks began to close accounts of citizens, including those with Russian passports at the same time.

The Savelyevs’ connections to the money that went through Zibar Management can be seen in other transactions as well. Thus, in June 2012, the Turkish construction company Mert Insaat Turizm A.S. received more than 14 thousand dollars (or 470 thousand rubles) from Zibar Management to its account. The purpose of the payment specified services for Savelieva. What kind of services, it was not disclosed. However, a couple of years before that Mert Insaat Turizm acquired a complex of private villas Kiris Villa Park on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, a few kilometers from the resort town of Kemer in Turkey, and actively sold them, local publications said.

In September of the same year, Zibar Management again transferred money in the interests of the Savelyev family. According to the transactions and invoices at the disposal of the journalists, the company paid for the stay of Dmitry Savelyev and nine other people in the luxurious Totaro chalet in the Courchevel ski resort in France during the New Year holidays in 2013. Such a trip cost 127 thousand euros (4 million rubles).

Senator Savelyev and his wife Olga did not comment on the situation.